Ex Nihilo, Short Stories, The Augmented World

Ex Nihilo – Golden

My skin tingles with the words of the Poet, even now, surrounded as I am by the crassness of everyday stimuli. Standing at the brink of the crowd, a multitude of people from every arm and finger of the galaxy, the sound and smell wash over me. In the face of the countless-countless voices that ping in this enclosed yet cavernous space, a core of me remains silent, intent, listening. To the past, to words spoken over a budding light, in the darkness not only of simulated light but also of the depths of our home, this way-station left alone in the silent void. Beneath working machinery, beneath coiling corridors and far away from the footsteps of the powerful that operated them, my chosen family whisper to me. I have a lot to learn if I am to catch up; if I am to be a member not just by Will but also by Knowledge.

I remember their syllables now, imparting a secret history which I never could have believed existed. My military experience left me flabbergasted in the face of such an insidious and loving assault on all I had thought I had known. The rigid training of who I had been, of the flame-hardened, song-tempered surfaces of my loyalty slowly break away, made supple by the compassion and empathy presented to me in the depths of these forgotten communication tunnels, falling apart bowels of a lonesome space station. They speak of oppression but not with rage. They lament the past that had been taken from them but not with sadness. They cry out against their oppressors but not with malice. No, all they hold is a golden hope, a seed of light and longing which slowly eats away at them all even as they cherish it. Rebuffed by some foreign hand, here in the now, in the ebb and flow of Central Hall on board the Space Station Zeroed, I stumble harshly against the metal railings of the promenade. I turn to catch the assailant, the callous busy-body who had such little disregard for my own body, but they are already gone. Naturally, the flow of people hasn’t stopped just for me. They never stop, not for themselves and certainly not for me, not now that I had been adopted. I can still remember days when my uniform seemed insulated within a force-field, creating a zone of silence and respect around me. I allow myself a half smile, remembering how my sisters and I had looked, splendid in our golden sashes, our rough black uniform, the sand of our ancestors still visible in our dun colored hair.

But that was all a lie, a lie convincingly told for centuries by the oppressors. Ever since the first day, ever since we had left our home and went to Black IV, the planet of supposed benefactors, we had been guided, misled, deceived. It seemed so clear to me know, a truth resounding like a silver line through my memories. And these memories contain nothing else to be proud of: years in space, weeks on planets, shattering, destroying, instilling order and discipline and most of all, fear. All in the name of some imagined center, some guiding hand that supposedly directed our course and employed my sisters and I, the original rebels, as its police. Back then, on what was supposed to be a casual run for hardened veterans like me, something in my own mind shattered. Cast away, I ended up here. Here: a derelict hunk of metal, afloat in space by the sheer gumption and greed of the men and women who ran it, stocked nearly to bursting with wares, weapons, food, and people. People of all places, people who didn’t fit, people who had no where to go. And my family, my new family, so different than the one I had known! Longing still filled my heart when I considered my sisters but it was vague now, opaque and distant. I had found people so different, at their core. That spoke instead of struck, that felt instead of decided. That told instead of ordered. And now, it is time someone struck for them. It is time someone decided for them. It is time someone ordered for them, ordered this callous, cruel place for them. That they would no longer be bottom feeders, cast away like all tellers of stories with too much truth in them were. And that someone was me.

Heart racing now, all feelings of oppression or fear of crowds gone, my hand quickly reaches for my gun. My gun, still inscribed with the sickly, blue-tinged, crawling words of my former masters. The Golden Sash! The shiny metal blade at the end of the claw, springing straight from the Heart and all across the galaxy. It was fitting that this weapon fire the first shot and fire it does, its mechanism running true even after two years of disuse. They built weapons well, the masters did, no one could take that away from them. Accompanying the discharge was a shriek of words, a babble of power so strong that it leveled the hundreds of people closest to me. I smile. They know what this voice means, they recognize the hint of command embedded in the words, phrased in a language that none of them knew but they all knew to fear. The language of those who hold the whip, the language of those who drive the flock. The masters. The Heart. I aim at someone at random. A man. He is wearing a suit, his shiny, pink skin glistening with sweat. He does well to fear but it aids him not against the first burst of bullets that pierces his chest, moving onward to at least a dozen more targets behind him. all the while screaming words of command and power.

Terrorism, they would undoubtedly call it later, the onlookers, the interpreters, the by-standers. Rebellion, some would whisper darkly, perhaps recognizing the strength in my actions, me who was once the cutting edge of law and power and language. My family, my new family, would probably call it insanity. My old family? Their faces are soaked with blood before me as I dispatch three more commuters, the litany of the bullets embracing me with the power of my Will. They are dead an infinity of times to me, heading towards some point in space to deliver death, coated with promises of salvation and a beacon between the stars. No, it is time to let it all float away: terrorism, rebellion, story-telling, pretense, lies. It will take time but I will die here eventually, not after my gun has said its piece and I have struck the ending chords on my own requiem.

Now, in the face of this, there is only acceptance, perhaps that shard of hope and light that I saw glimmer last night, when they were telling me their story, my new adopted family. Of how they were chased, how they were driven, how they were whipped and silenced, their voices drowning in a blue tide of poetry and haughty metaphysics. How the Heart had opened its Arteries and out flowed blood, viscous fluids, drowning them all in their viewpoint of reality. This is my surgery; a song and process both, a killing and an opening. A clearing of vessels, a removal of obstructions. In the face of the rough laughter of my gun, there is no discourse. There is no rebuttal. There are only the blazing words of my intention and my message. To them, to all, to the oppressed and the oppressors, every single one of them:

Cor Ad Cor Loquitur. The city will not be forgotten. Her blood is on your hands and I come bearing a cup full of water. Sweet, lucid water, straight from the golden, hopeful core of her people. They bid you to drink deep, truly, and be forgiven.

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